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The 5 best niche business ideas for your 2016 ecommerce startup

Written by Spencer Durrant on February 26, 2016 in Strategies & Tips

pexels-photo_1-1.jpgHave you always wanted to run your own online store, but just haven't gotten around to starting?

Well, you don't have an excuse to not start your store any longer. I've put together a list of the 5 best niche business ideas for your 2016 ecommerce startup. While there's no guarantee that you're going to be able to quit your day job by opening an online store selling in one of these niches, if you put the hard work required to build a reputable brand, you will easily see a good secondary source of income for the rest of 2016.

Related: Your guide to ecommerce SEO in 2016.

Personalized apparel

Apparel has long been one of the best niches for an ecommerce startup (it's also one of the most successful categories in the Doba catalog). 

On-site personalization is a big key to ecommerce success, according to an article. The article refers specifically to personalizing a consumers' online shopping experience.  By personalizing the shoppers experience, customers feel as though they're getting individual, unique attention every time they purchase a product.

This is why personalized apparel is such a great niche for an ecommerce startup. Screen-print Ts with a consumers' logo, name, or favorite design will sell better than a shirt that can be bought anywhere else on the web. By allowing consumers the opportunity to personalize their product, you kill two birds with one stone: deliver on-site personalization discussed by the article, and tap into the huge personalized apparel market. Screenshot_2016-02-22_at_12.39.07_PM.png

As you can see from the above Google Trends data, search interest for personalized apparel has been pretty steady over the 12 months. While it is a competitive market to break into, it's not impossible to see success in this niche. If apparel is the game you want to play, I suggest reading this post for tips on how to be successful.

Electronics accessories

When you're looking to start an ecommerce store, it's easy to be tempted to sell electronics. After all, they are crazy expensive and the profit margins must be huge, right?

Wrong. Margins on electronics are incredibly slim. The only people succeeding at selling electronics are either vertically-integrated-brand-retailers, or big-box retailers who can afford to skate by on slim margins because of the sheer volume of items that they sell. 

Apple makes tons off the sale of iPhones and iPads, but that's due to the fact that Apple owns the entire process from conceptualization to production. In comparison, Google gives its Android OS away for free to developers, and Samsung takes in 95% of the total Android smartphone revenue, according to a Bloomberg Business article. Google doesn't make a dime off the sale of Samsung smartphones. 

Taking all that into consideration, you can begin to understand why selling electronics online is a tough business. However, you know what is less competitive? Selling all the accessories consumers need for their electronics. 

Phone cases, charging cables, screen protectors, headphones, keyboards, tablet stands - you name the accessory and people are buying it. 

These accessories are pretty cheap when bought at wholesale prices and you can list them at a price point that gives you a reasonable margin. How many phone cases do you see for sale at the $40 mark? Chances are you can find those cases for about half the cost at wholesale, and you can offer your own accessories for less than the competition to attract more consumers to your store.

Related content - how to use Pinterest for marketing

Hobby supplies

This is another category that, like apparel, is incredibly broad and allows for a more personalized shopping experience.Screenshot_2016-02-22_at_1.13.32_PM.png

As you can see from the above Google Trends graph, the term "hobby supplies" has had a high and steady amount of searches for the past year. This is due in large part to the popularity of DIY among millennials. In fact, Millennial Marketing even published a blog post called, "Generation Y has become Generation DIY.

According to that article, 

"Research shows that 4 in 10 millennials are interested in co-creating products with companies. Many brands are taking advantage of this and are now offering customizable options. TOMS shoes, wildly popular product for the millennial generation, now offers the ability to purchase a customized pair with their launch of Live Custom." 

This ties back into what I wrote earlier about the importance of personalized shopping experiences. Millennials have surpassed the Baby Boomers to become the largest demographic in America, and that means you'll need to cater a large amount of your marketing towards them. They like DIY projects and if you sell the niche products they need to complete their various projects - everything from an exact Millenium Falcon replica to a classic birdhouse - you'll be rewarded with loyalty and sales.


Another popular niche is jewelry. Most products are extremely lightweight, so shipping costs are a lot lower than other products. According to a post from Ecommerce Rules

"One can screen print shirts or make fashion jewelry and accessories at a price well below typical retail value. This allows room for markup and profit margin, while also allowing the flexibility to offer a competitive price."

Costume jewelry, real jewelry - it can all be successfully sold online and once again is another niche that enables you to offer personalization in your products. 

Wood grain/natural products

With all the emphasis on organic food and healthier living, consumers have started looking for products that match their improved lifestyle. 

Look at the Google Trends report for wood sunglasses for example. Screenshot_2016-02-22_at_2.19.34_PM.png

It's product that has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and according to a blog post from Shopify, Alibaba has 555 suppliers for wood sunglasses alone. With that many suppliers, it's a safe bet to say that the trend of natural-looking and wood-grain products will continue to grow into 2016.

While the five business niches I mentioned are great places to start, if you want to run an ecommerce store in 2016, don't forget one important thing - whatever you sell, you need to have a unique way of selling it. If you have any expertise in a specific niche, sell there. Whatever you decided to sell, you need to sell consumers not just your products, but yourself as a seller. Consumers can get whatever they want from thousands of retailers, so you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Once you have that figured out, you'll be on your way to running a successful ecommerce store.

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